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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Therapy Niche: Just Because You’re Good At it, Doesn’t Mean it Needs to Be Your Speciality

When I started my private practice, my primary speciality was grief. I chose this because of my extensive experience with grief (wrote a book, taught grief classes, volunteered with hospices, etc.).

Given that a lot of my experience was also with adolescents and I enjoyed that population, I decided to work with both teens and adults.

My grief specialty served me well as I started my private practice, and I received many referrals for people looking for art therapy for grief. I also hadn’t realized how many therapists needed a therapist to refer teens to. One third of my caseload quickly became teens.

Over time, I found myself more and more interested in other topics outside of grief.

I also encountered specific challenges to working with teens in a solo private practice that I had not anticipated (such as parents and family systems needing more support than I could provide on my own).

When I decided to restructure my business (I shrunk my caseload), I took the time to also evaluate the niche and populations I was marketing myself to. Even though I was highly successful working with teens, I decided to no longer see teens.

Autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld shares an illustration of a person looking at something new
"Interested by Something Else" Illustration by Jackie Schuld

As I thought about my niche, I realized that over time, the clients I enjoyed working with most were highly intelligent women who experienced overwhelming thoughts and emotions.

I decided to stop marketing myself to grief, and start targeting the population I enjoyed most. I also let myself start to build other interest areas (such as autism, entrepreneurs, and religious deconstruction).

I restructured my business because I was emotionally and mentally tired. I knew that if I wanted to create a practice that was sustainable to me, I needed to work with the people I was most excited about.

At first, the amount of referrals was low. My years of experience with hospice and high schools had led to an easy pipeline of referrals. I had to create new pipelines and new marketing strategies to find my ideal clients.

Although it was initially more work, I am now so grateful I did it. My entire caseload is full of engaging clients that I am excited to work with every day.

Similar to points in my essay on being multi-passionate and multi-capable, just because we are good at something or it is easy for us, doesn’t mean that is what we need to do. Our practices will be far more life-enhancing and sustainable for us if we honor what interests us most.


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